Explorer's Guide
 Manitoba Books

  • Take time to explore our Manitoba books
  • Imagining ourselves to make us real
  • From Crackpot to April Raintree -- the North End
  • We even have a piece of Greenpeace
  • And a Pulitzer Prize, too!
  • Historical Fiction
  • Some towns produce more writers than NHL hockey players!
  • A fine grammar of bones
  • Our explorers are writers, too
  • When do kids find time to watch TV?
  • Juvenile Books
  • Young Adult Titles
  • Recent General Fiction
  • We may have to import coffee beans
  • Popular histories
  • Issues, issues and more issues

  • Take time to explore our Manitoba books
    The explorer of Manitoba books will find a literary landscape as scenic and varied
    as our physical and human geography. Manitoba's Tyndal stone buildings and the
    story of the men who quarried the stone inspired Carol Shields's award-winning
    novel, The Stone Diaries, while the exploits of real-life private detective, Arnold
    Manweiler, gave us If it weren't for sex...I'd have to get a job. In Alan Levine's
    The Exchange you can read about 100 years of trading grain in Winnipeg, whereas
    in Chris Rutkowski's Unnatural History: True Manitoba Mysteries you will
    discover UFOs, crop circles, hauntings and sasquatches. Young children will love
    Melissa Kajpust's Christmas story, A Dozen Silk Diapers, and ghost story lovers
    of all ages will enjoy Margaret Buffie's novel Who is Frances Rain? Patrick
    Friesen in Blasphemer's Wheel will transport you into the magical language of
    poetry, while Elizabeth Thornton's Tender the Storm plunges you into the
    historical romance of the French Revolution.
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    Imagining ourselves to make us real...again and again


    "...and what the hell did Kipling have to do with where I was living?" asked
    Margaret Laurence. Born in Neepawa, Laurence went back to her childhood
    roots for her five Manawaka novels, including The Stone Angel and The
    Diviners. Over and over again Manitoba fiction writers have discovered the joys
    and sorrows, the terror and comedy of writing our own stories from our own
    viewpoints and found that a nuisance ground can be as powerful a setting as a
    London fog, that human voices can speak truth in the accent of home. St. Boniface-
    born Gabrielle Roy, world famous for her Montreal novel, The Tin Flute, set most
    of her fiction in Manitoba. The Road Past Altamont, and Children of My Heart
    explore Manitoba life from the thirties and forties in a style still enjoyed today in French
    and in English.

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    From Crackpot to April Raintree -- the North End


    Winnipeg's North End has provided readers with some of the funniest and saddest
    fiction in Manitoba. Adele Wiseman gave us two great novels, The Sacrifice and
    Crackpot , while John Marlyn evoked tragic immigrant experience in Under the
    Ribs of Death. In the seventies Maara Haas entertained first CBC radio listeners
    and then readers with her hilarious novel, The Street Where I Live. Unfortunately
    out of print, you will have to look for this story about Mrs. Koslosky and Mrs.
    Weinstein, Shmarkaty Kapusta and Moishe the Manipulator in used bookshops and
    at garage sales.

    Ed Kleiman's very funny story collections, The Immortals and A New-Found Ecstasy,
    explore the tensions between old world and new world values, North End and South
    End ways of life. Sheldon Oberman portrays a younger generation's North End in his
    story collection, This Business With Elijah. Other North End novels include Bess
    Kaplan's Corner Store , Sondra Gotlieb's True Confections, and Beatrice Culleton's
    now classic novel In Search of April Raintree which explores Winnipeg's inner city
    from a Native perspective.

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    We even have a piece of Greenpeace


    Of course, not all Winnipeg writers grew up in the North End. Did you know that
    Robert Hunter, before he co-founded Greenpeace, wrote a novel called Erebus
    about the seemier side of Winnipeg? The novel contains a description of a St. Boniface
    meat-packing plant so graphic the reader can smell it.

    Dave Williamson's characters live in suburban Winnipeg, though the hero of his
    first novel, The Bad Life, runs away to the North End to be an artist. Willamson
    explores modern love and marriage in his hilarious story collection, Accountable
    Advances. Lawrence Hill's Some Great Thing uses the setting of a Winnipeg
    newspaper to look at race, gender, and language in our capital city during the
    language wars of 1983.

    Many of Jake Macdonald's characters move back and forth between Winnipeg and
    the lake country of Northwestern Ontario in books such as The Bridge Out of
    Town and Raised by the River, Wayne Tefs's novels, Figures on a Wharf and
    The Canasta Players are set in Winnipeg, while Dickie explores the lives of two
    brothers in a Northern Ontario mining town.

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    And a Pulitzer Prize, too!


    Carol Shields set her bestselling novel, The Republic of Love, in Winnipeg, south
    of the Assiniboine River. Her other titles include Swann: A Mystery (now also a film),
    and of course, the Governor-General's Award and Pulitzer Prize winning The Stone
    Diaries. Popular fiction writer, Susan Bowden, has published a series of novels which
    move between Winnipeg and her childhood home in England. Two of her recent titles
    are Homecoming and Family Secrets.

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    Historical Fiction


    For a popular fictional look at the history of Winnipeg and the Manitoba prairies read
    Alfred Silver's Red River Trilogy: Red River Story, Lord of the Plains, and Where
    the Ghost Horse Runs. A classic book about the tall grass prairie days in Manitoba
    is Allan Ekert's Incident at Hawk's Hill.

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    Some towns produce more writers than NHL hockey players!


    Gimli native David Arnason's writing ranges from realistic stories about the Interlake
    to post-modern musings on the sex fantasies of astronauts. His titles include The
    Pagan Wall, and two collections of fractured prairie tales, The Dragon and the
    Dry Goods Princess and If Pigs Could Fly. Arnason's contemporary, W.D.
    Valgardson has used the Interlake as the setting for numerous collections of short
    stories such as Bloodflowers as well as the novel, Gentle Sinners. Other Gimli
    writers include Kristine Kristofferson, author of Tanya, children's author Kathleen
    Arnason and the poet Elizabeth Phillips.


    Morris has given us Sandra Birdsell, whose powerful stories and novels explore
    characters shaped by the landscape of rural Manitoba. The flooding of the Red River
    is an important feature of Agassiz Stories and The Missing Child; Birdsell's latest
    story collection is called The Two-Headed Calf.


    Altona's Lois Braun writes haunting stories full of mystical images which recall a
    vanishing prairie ethos. Her first collection, A Stone Watermelon, was nominated
    for the Governor-General's Award. The Pumpkin Eaters and The Montreal Cats
    continue this elegant story-telling. Armin Wiebe has used this area between the Red
    River and the Pembina Hills as the setting for his comic novels, including The
    Salvation of Yasch Siemens, and The Second Coming of Yeeat Shpanst.
    Douglas Reimer gives us another view of the Sunflower Capital in his short story
    collection Older Than Ravens.


    Steinbach may be a good place to buy a car, but it also has given us many books:
    poet Patrick Friesen's The Shunning, novelist Al Reimer's My Harp is Turned
    to Mourning which explores the Mennonite experience during the Russian Revolution,
    Grant Loewen's post-modern novel Brick, Looking Up, Lynnette D'anna's troubling,
    yet life-afirming novels sing me no more and RagTimeBone, Delbert F. Plett's
    historical saga Sarah's Prairie, and Jack Thiessen's satirical The Eleventh


    Niverville native David Bergen explores the realtionships between modern men and
    women and modern men and God in Sitting Opposite My Brother and A Year of
    Lesser, while New Bothwell, long famous for cheese, has given us poet Audrey
    Poetker's i sing for my dead in german and standing all the night through.

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    a fine grammar of bones...our poets can take you to the cutting edge of words


    Some novelist once said "no song can do that" claiming that the Canadian prairie is
    too wide and vast to be adequately expressed on the compact canvass of the poet.
    Our Manitoba poets have proven this statement wrong time and time again. Take a
    look at George Amabile's latest collection Rumours of Paradise/ Rumours of War
    or Di Brandt's questions i asked my mother and Jerusalem, Beloved. If you enjoy
    sophisticated wordplay, bankrobbers, and have a sense of humour read Dennis
    Cooley's Bloody Jack which examines the life of the Plum Coulee bank robber
    Jack Krafchenko. Cooley's other titles include, This Only Home and Sunfall.
    Sarah Klassen explores her Mennonite past as well as Biblical and contemporary
    themes in Journey to Yalta, Violence and Mercy, and Borderwatch. Catherine
    Hunter takes ownership of the moon and sets her eyes on the sun in Lunar Wake.
    Patrick Friesen creates symphonies with words in books such as Flicker and Hawk,
    and A Broken Bowl.


    Meira Cook , who began to write poetry after moving from South Africa to Ashern
    will mesmerize you with the sound of her verse in a fine grammar of bones. Patrick
    O'Connell, who lives for words, can be found in Hoping for Angels. Other recent
    Manitoba poetry includes Carol Rose's Behind the Blue Gate, Marie Annharte
    Baker's Being on the Moon, Duncan Mercredi's Dreams of the Wolf in the City,
    Jan Horner's Recent Mistakes, Katherine Bitney's Singing Bone, and Todd Bruce's
    Rhapsody in D. Also, poetry lovers should check out the chapbook racks at literary
    book shops for gems like John Weier's Twelve Poems for Emily Carr and Debbie
    Keahey's the d word. For a unique listening experience there is the CD/Chapbook
    Broken Songs with jazz texts by Margaret Sweatman and music by composer
    Glenn Buhr.

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    Hearne, Stefansson, Starkell, and Victoria Jason:
        Our explorers are writers, too


    Henry Kelsey's diaries were the first writing about the prairies and Samuel Hearne's
    A Journey from Prince of Wales Fort, in Hudson's Bay, to the Northern
    Ocean (1795) was a British bestseller. In the twentieth century Arnes-born Vilhjalmur
    Stefansson explored the Arctic and wrote his famous autobiography Discovery
    (1964). The '90s have brought us Kabloona in a Yellow Kayak: One Woman's
    Journey Through the Northwest Passage by Victoria Jason and Paddle to the
    Arctic by Don Starkell.

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    With so many great books to read when do kids find time to watch TV?


    Picture books and more picture books. There are The Wise Washerman by Deborah
    Froese and The Always Prayer Shawl by Sheldon Oberman. Also look for Oberman's
    The White Stone in the Castle Wall . Our children write, too, so look for How
    Eagle Got His Good Eyes by the students at Oscar Blackburn School in South Indian Lake.
    Joseph McClellan retells Ojibway stories in beautiful books such as The Birth of
    Nanabosho and Nanabosho Dances. There are Rhonda O'Grady's Bobby Bluestem,
    about the tall grass prairie, and Dale Klassen's I Love to Play Hockey. Margaret
    Shaw-Mackinnon's Tiktala explores Inuit life. Jamie Oliviero retells folktales from
    around the world in books such as The Day the Sun was Stolen and The Fish Skin,
    while Kathleen Arnason tells a Manitoba tale in Whistle and the Legend of the
    White Horse. Another title about horses is Diana Wieler's To the Mountains by
    Morning. Also look for Fred Penner's The Bump, W.D. Valgardson's Sarah and
    the People of Sand River, and Melissa Kajpust's The Peacock's Pride.


    Rhea Tregebov explores our wonderful weather in the story The Big Storm whereas
    Cheryl Archer's Snow Watch looks at our favorite substance from a scientific point
    of view. Norman Schmidt shows you how to make flying things in Best Ever Paper
    Airplanes, and you will laugh at Eenie Meenie Manitoba by Robert Heidbreden
    and Those Tiny Bits of Beans by John Weier. Grandparents and their grandchildren
    will be delighted by William Kurelek's classic books A Prairie Boy's Winter and A
    Prairie Boy's Summer. Brandon author and illustrator Kady MacDonald Denton will
    delight you with Would They Love a Lion? and Realms of Gold. Also be sure
    to take a look at Brochet author Tina Umpherville's fine story of a community picnic
    in The Spring Celebration.

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    Juvenile Books


    Children who have moved into chapter books will enjoy John Danakas's Hockey
    Night in Transcona. Also take a look at Linda Holeman's Frankie on the Run,
    Ishbel Moore's Summer of the Hand and Sandra Birdsell's The Town That
    Floated Away. For sports fans Scott Young's classic Winnipeg hockey novels Scrubs
    on Skates, Boy on Defence, and A Boy at the Leafs Camp are still in print.
    For mystery and adventure there is Eric Wilson's Terror in Winnipeg. For fantasy
    take a look at Of Two Minds by Carol Matas and Perry Nodelman, as well as
    Nodelman's fantasies set on Churchill Drive, The Same Place But Different
    and A Completely Different Place. Of course, no child should grow up without
    having read Margaret Laurence's classic Christmas story, The Olden Days Coat.

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    Young Adult Titles


    Manitoba's writers for young adults are producing a rich selection of titles. Margaret
    Buffie's novels such as The Dark Garden usually involve ghosts in a convincing way
    that adults can enjoy as much as young people. Carol Matas's many novels include
    The Race (about a girl helping her mother run for the leadership of a political party)
    and The Primrose Path. Diana Wieler's Bad Boy won a Governor-General's Award.
    Other titles include Ran Van the Defender, and Ran Van A Worthy Opponent.
    Martha Brooks grew up in Ninette, the home of the Manitoba Sanitarium, and many
    of her stories and novels for young people are set in that area. Her books include: Two
    Moons in August, and Traveling on into the Light. Linda Holeman's Saying
    Goodbye and Eva Wiseman's A Place Not Home are other powerful titles for

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    Recent General Fiction


    Novelist, playwright, and jazz text composer Margaret Sweatman is the author of
    Sam and Angie, a novel of passion in a privileged world of cocktail parties, large
    river-front houses, and expensive cars. Don Bailey writes fiction for love and almost
    anything else to earn a living. His book, Memories of Margaret, tells of being
    Margaret Laurence's neighbour in Lakefield, Ontario. John Weier's experimental novel
    Steppe: A Novel packs all the power of a 19th century Russian novel into a compact
    mix of poetry and prose as he explores his Russian-Mennonite heritage. Other recent
    Winnipeg fiction includes Meeka Walsh's poetic The Garden of Earthly Intimacies,
    Michael Olito's Viking adventure Atli's Tale, Linda Holeman's Flying to Yellow and
    Miriam Toews's hilarious and warm novel about a single mother on welfare, Summer
    of My Amazing Luck.

    Other recent novels include Dave Williamson's Weddings, Wayne Tef's Red Rock:
    a mystery, Steven Benstead's Driving Blind, David Bergen's See the Child, and
    Miriam Toews's second novel, A Boy of Good Breeding.

    Mystery lovers will enjoy Allan Levine's Blood Ties, Karen Dudley's Hoot to Kill,
    and Catherine Hunter's dramatic Where Shadows Burn. For British-style mysteries
    written in Manitoba check out the works of C.C. Benison.

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    We may have to import coffee beans,
    but we make good coffee table books right here


    For starters take a look at Winnipeg: City at the Forks by Steven Bensted and
    Manitoba by Lindor Reynolds. Ben Kroeker's Drawing the Line is a photographic
    record of a 1991 trail ride following the Boundary Commission Trail of 1873 and the
    westward trek of the Northwest Mounted Police in 1874. Markings: Scenes and
    Recollections of Winnipeg's North End by A.J. Paquette features an Introduction
    by Monty Hall. Another unique book is Building on Common Ground: Winnipeg
    Habitat for Humanity Jimmy Carter Work Project.


    In recent years numerous pictorial histories of Manitoba have been published, the
    most ambitious being Manitoba 125, a three-volume history series edited by Gregg
    Shilliday with the titles Rupert's Land to Riel, Gateway to the West, and
    Decades of Diversity. For early Winnipeg in black and white look for The Best
    Possible Face: L.B. Foote's Winnipeg by Michael Olito & Doug Smith.
    Historian J.M. Bumsted has produced three picture histories of major Manitoba events,
    The Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, The Manitoba Flood of 1950 and
    The Red River Rebellion. Other pictorial books include The New Icelanders:
    A North American Community by David & Vincent Arnason, Dancing Through
    Time: The First Fifty Years of Canada's RoyalWinnipeg Ballet by
    Christopher Dafoe, Winnipeg Landmarks by Murray Peterson, and The Winnipeg
    School of Art: The Early Years by Marilyn Baker.

    For a Brandon perspective see Manitoba: The Province and the People
    and Pride of the Land: An Affectionate History of Brandon's Agricultural
    Exhibitions by Ken Coates and Fred McGuinnis. A treasure of a book is The Land
    They Left Behind by Stella Hryniuk and Jeffrey Picknicki, a collection of
    photographs taken in 1890's Ukrainian villages just as the immigration to Canada
    was beginning.

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    Popular histories

    Picture histories are not the only popular history available. James H. Gray has written
    many popular books about the story of western Canada including The Boy From
    Winnipeg. W.E. Morris tells the history of hanging in Watch the Rope. Manitoba's
    father of Confederation, Louis Riel, has had many books written about him. A recent,
    readable but very thorough biography of this controversial figure is Riel: A Life of
    Revolution by Maggie Siggins. Another controversial politician, J.W. Woodsworth, is
    explored in Fool for Christ by Allen Mills. For an overview of western history look at
    The Canadian Prairies: A History by Gerald Friesen. To delve into the distant past
    see Neal Putt's Place Where the Spirit Lives: Stories from the Archeology
    and History of Manitoba.

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    Issues, issues and more issues


    To help your undertstanding of life in Manitoba and Canada today read Stewart
    Dickson's Hey Monias! The Story of Raphael Ironstand, In The Rapids:
    Navigating the Future of First Nations by Ovide Mercredi and Mary Ellen
    Turpel, and Indian Country by Larry Krotz. Try Rotten to the Core by Sheila
    Jones Morrison or Shakedown by Manitoba's own national pollster Angus Reid.
    Women's perspectives can be found in In Her Own Voice: Childbirth Stories
    from Mennonite Women edited by Katherine Martens and Heidi Harms. For a
    heart-wrenching story of child-abuse on the shores of Lake Manitoba read Where
    Children Run by Karen Emilson.



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